Councillors began the latest meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet with announcements on a series of new grants to support local businesses through the COVID-19 restrictions.
Cabinet approves business support
Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Customer Services, Sam Kane confirmed the implementation of three new grants, being made available on the Council website.
Local Restrictions Support Grant (for closed businesses)
Applies to those businesses that have had to close under the national restrictions between 5 November and 2 December 2020. This applies to the current national measures and any future LCAL 3 (Tier 3) restrictions.
- GOV.UK guidance – Check if you’re eligible for the coronavirus Local Restrictions Support Grant (for closed businesses)
Local Restrictions Support Grant (for open businesses)
For businesses that can remain open but are severely impacted by the restrictions combatting the spread of COVID-19. It is for those businesses severely impacted but not required to close during LCAL 2&3 (Tier 2&3) restrictions.
Aimed at hospitality, hotel, bed and breakfast and leisure businesses. Applies between 17 October and 4 November 2020, when Essex was subject to Tier 2 restrictions on socialising. It will also apply to any future periods of Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions.
- GOV.UK guidance – Check if you’re eligible for the coronavirus Local Restrictions Support Grant (for open businesses)
Additional Restriction Grant
A local discretionary scheme for businesses that remain open but are severely impacted by the current restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19. It can also be for businesses outside the business rates system which are effectively forced to close.
Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Housing, Councillor Holly Whitbread updated councillors on phase 5 of the council housebuilding programme before presenting a series of reports to support tenants and improve the local environment of the Council’s housing estates.
Among the items presented by Councillor Holly Whitbread, Cabinet approved measures focusing on debt prevention in the rent arrears recovery policy. Further investment of service charges in high quality estate maintenance will take place through closer consultation and collaboration with tenants.
Improved estate facilities with a five-year programme of bin store replacement is set to boost the Council’s ambitions to become carbon-neutral. It will be especially helpful to tenants, improving and increasing recycling facilities for people living in council flats.
Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor, John Philip provided the latest financial update. Loss of income due to COVID-19 is projected to create a deficit of £4.1 million in next year’s budget, more than half of which will be off-set by government grants and the Council’s own reserves. Councillor Philip did not downplay the challenge of meeting the £2 million shortfall through a combination of new income generation and savings.
Council Leader Chris Whitbread noted the high degree of uncertainty around income and government support into next year while also highlighting the strong underlying pre-COVID financial position of the Council, putting it in a much stronger position than many other councils.
Job opportunities for young people
Council Leader, Chris Whitbread moved Cabinet into private session to protect the commercial interests of a sub-contractor willing to provide special support for Kick-Start.
Councillors backed ‘Kick-Start Gateway’ whereby the Council can provide access to funds for small local employers recruiting young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are on Universal Credit. As well as helping local employers recruit young people, the Council will take on eight new employees itself. Details of the scheme and how to apply will appear on a specially developed website.
North Weald Inland Border Facility
Council Leader Chris Whitbread also welcomed close and regular liaison with North Weald Bassett Parish Council,as councillors considered details of the proposed lease of land by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise (HMRC) at North Weald Airfield.
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